Ah, women. We’re just not funny, are we? Our brains are too full of thoughts about love and kittens and shoes to think of anything funny to say about any of them. If we laugh, it’s at some hilarious man’s joke. And if we do ever stretch our feeble ladybrains and make some sort of witticism ourselves, then our lame attempts at humour are treated with the confusion or contempt they deserve.
Well, it seems that SOME people see us that way. In a recent post on the Red Magazine website, editor Sam Baker wrote about some rather depressing new research by linguist Judith Baxter that showed men don’t laugh at women’s jokes in the boardroom:
Baxter undertook an 18-month study at seven big FTSE 100 companies and analysed the language used during 14 meetings – seven led by men, seven by women – to see how humour was used and received.
The outcome? To paraphrase wildly, men laughed at jokes by other men and male staff used humour to impress their (male) bosses. Whereas jokes by women leaders or members of predominantly male teams fell flat or were met with silence.
But why? The thing is, the question of whether women can be funny or not shouldn’t be up for debate. Anyone who has read this blog, watched telly or indeed lived in the real world knows that they – we – can. Some claim that men and women simply find different things funny, but to be honest, I’m doubtful that male and female senses of humour are so very different – most of us have mixed group of friends who crack each other up, and we often find the same books, films and TV shows hilarious as our male friends or partners.
So today, let’s defy those witless boardroom bigots and celebrate ladies who make us laugh. Which women crack you up? My list would include every one from Nancy Mitford, Caitlin Moran and comedian Sarah Millican to my friend Miriam, who, when I was spending a student summer in Berlin in 1995, sent me a letter in a giant envelope she’d made out of a particularly hairy-chested Bon Jovi poster (a “bonvelope”, if you will).
What about you?